Jack Parow is a Zef rapper originally from Belville in the Cape Province. His trademark item is a leopard skin print cap with an absurbdly long peak. He swears almost as freely as Eminem. His first song “Kooler as ekke” was a dig at everyone who thought they were cooler than he was. The follow-up track, “I miss”, was about things that he missed from his childhood. Numerous Television programmes; his “ouma (grandmother) sitting reading Danielle Steele”; skool saal (school assembly); playing kaalvoet (barefoot) rugby; Voortrekker Camps; and cut-and-paste projects for school, amongst other things.
I wondered if there was anything I missed from my childhood. The answer was “not really”. There are things I remember with fondness, but I don’t really miss them. Other things and people, I don’t remember fondly at all.One of the things I remember was simulcasting. Many television programmes were purchased from the US, France and Germany, and dubbed into afrikaans. Amongst the dubbed programmes were Alf, Buck Rogers, Hardcastle and McCormick, Remington Steele, Masquerade, Simon and Simon, Miami Vice, Northern Exposure, The Young and the Restless, The Protectors, T. J. Hooker, Quincy, Gallagher, Tequila and Bonetti, Counterstrike, Supertrain, Mirage, and The Waltons. Sometimes the programme was simulcast. What this meant was that the original language soundtrack was played on Radio 2000. You tuned in when the programme was showing, and you could hear the programme in its original language.
Another thing I remember is the original Volkswagen Beetle. When I was in pre-primary school, it was the most common vehicle on the roads and the noise of its air-cooled flat four is unmistakeable. The parents of a childhood friend of mine owned one. Gradually, as the years passed, it became less and less common, but there are still a few around. In fact, one of the other owners in the complex where I live owns a Beetle, and I have seen another with a “For Sale” sign in the window.
The Beetle was not without its flaws, though. To call the interior spartan would be an understatement. The rounded front meant that people could not judge the distance between a Beetle and the car in front, and I recall somebody in a Beetle driving almost up my mother’s exhaust. Ferdinand Porsche had given the Beetle an engine with a low compression ratio for longevity and to enable it to consume 73 Octane petrol. The result was that Beetles slurped fuel. One of my sister’s ex-boyfriends owned a Beetle, and had upped the compression ratio to 9.5 to 1 to improve efficiency.
Most of my teachers were decent people whom I remember with fondness. Some, however, should not have been allowed anywhere near a class of pupils. One was a petty, spiteful and vindictive bully. Another, my Standard Two Class teacher, was actually contemptuous of her students. She would regularly rant that we would wind up “sweeping the streets” if we didn’t buck up. I found out years later that her then boyfriend had knocked her up then dumped her. Normally I would be sympathetic, but after being in her class for a year, I wasn’t. I really don’t know why she became a teacher.
I do not miss smelling cigarette smoke almost everywhere I went. I do not miss the teasing, taunts, swearing and threats I was subjected to as an autistic child. Finally, and most of all, I do not miss the bullying that often reached the level of assault.
The final quatrain of “I miss” warns of the dangers of nostalgia:
“There’s a lot of good stuff that happened back then,
but I can’t go on about way back when.
So that’s enough of that, no way no how,
’cause I’d miss all the [stuff] that I’m doing right now.”
And that’s the real reason I don’t really miss my past. This evening I had sushi for dinner. That wasn’t available when I was a child. The first PC I ever used had a Command Line Interface. My current laptop has an Object-Oriented User Interface. I don’t miss Command Line one bit. In my cupboard are coffee sticks to make a cappucino if I want one. I live on my own. When I was with my parents, I had to arrange it with them if I wanted to go anywhere, even to gym. Now I can come and go just about as I please. If I want, I can have Lunch Noodles and an orange for breakfast. If I need, I can take internet-based courses to gain some specialised knowledge in a field instead of searching for a course that might not have been available.
Finally, there’s something I intend doing that would have been impossible in my youth. Currently, the Indian Cricket Team is touring South Africa. Twenty years ago, sanctions on South Africa due to apartheid were still in force, and the idea of the Indian Team coming to SA was a dream. There will be a Cricket match at the Wanderers Cricket Ground on January 15th, and I will be watching it there.